IF YOU GO
• What: “Jacob Fisher and Family — Athens, Tennessee Craftsmen 1830-1860”
• When: Sept. 3-Dec. 13. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
• Where: McMinn County Living Heritage Museum, 522 W. Madison Ave., Athens, Tenn.
• Admission: $5 adults, $3 students/seniors
• Phone: 423-745-0329
• Website: www.livingheritagemuseum.com
McMinn County Living Heritage Museum is putting its Fisher family furniture on display -- and seeking other examples of the craftsmen's work for a research project into the rarely documented early East Tennessee pieces.
"Jacob Fisher and Family -- Athens, Tennessee Craftsmen 1830-1860" will be on display Tuesday, Sept. 3, through Friday, Dec. 13.
The museum has in its permanent collection a Jacob Fisher Jackson press (similar to a sideboard and indigenous to Tennessee) and a walnut tall case clock. On loan for exhibit and study are a second Jacob Fisher Jackson press, a Richard Fisher empire chest, a Fisher family blanket chest, a signed Augustus Fisher chest of drawers, several Fisher family chairs and a candlestick table.
Executive Director Amy Blackburn says the museum would welcome any information from area residents who believe they own a piece of Fisher furniture. All pieces identified as crafted by the Fisher family will be documented and included in the museum's research project. Call Mary Alton or Amy Blackburn at 423-745-0329 for more information.
According to Blackburn, Jacob Fisher moved to Athens from Virginia in 1838 as an established cabinetmaker. He set up a woodworking shop with his son-in law, Henry Rider, and sons Augustus and Richard. They made furniture as requested by established Athens families and completed interior woodwork on homes through their connection with construction contractors Thomas Crutchfield and Samuel Cleage.
Utilizing wood shaving planes, hand saws and foot-powered turning lathes, they favored using locally available woods of cherry and walnut. A hallmark of their fine craftsmanship is exquisitely turned posts and legs, Blackburn says.
Fisher's youngest son, Flavius, was the first American to be accepted in the Berlin School of Art. He became a noted artist whose work hangs in a number of museums.
Eldest son Augustus lived in Roane and Knox counties after the Civil War. Richard Fisher remained in McMinn County and did much of the construction work on the famed White Cliff Springs Hotel in Monroe County.
A companion exhibit, scheduled Nov. 15-Jan. 15, will focus on the works of early craftsmen Walter Vincent, Johnny McGrew and Jeff Wilkins.